The Choice of Diction as Empowerment for Marital Freedom: A Study of Selected Divorce Registers in a Nigerian Newspaper

Harrison Adeniyi, O. Rachael Bello


For some time now, the female gender has strived to make an impression in the supposedly male-dominated world. Consequently, several methods ranging from symposia, workshops, conferences, and publications to appeal have been adopted to find a position for females in the globe. In all of this, both verbal and non-verbal means of communication are adopted. In Nigeria today, the woman has succeeded in finding her voice both in marriage and even outside marriage. Thus, contrary to what used to exist especially in the Northern part of the country and especially among members of the Islamic religion, talking about marriage and the rights of the woman, the women by their choice of diction now can determine their lot in wedlock and their choice to be let loose of the marital bondage. In this paper, we explore how the Nigerian female, through her choice of words, not only makes her intentions known but also succeeds at persuading her listeners to understand her plight. In doing this, we examine the divorce discourse of The Punch Newspaper between 1st January 2012 to 29 September 2015. Adopting Engberg’s (2010) second role of language for specific purposes, we unravel how the Nigerian females in the divorce dilemma combine discourse features, established through cultural knowledge and social background to fight her course. As suggested by Engberg, (2010) therefore, it was discovered from the analyzed data that the basic assumption lying behind the subject’s choice of diction is marked by the characteristics of the participants in the communication business and the purposes pursued by the female participants. Apart from their use of metaphors, similes, analogy rhetoric, concession strategy, etc., the female participants in this register also appeal to emotions. Such is the case with one of the informant’s claims: “Please, I still need him; he is the father of my child; don’t separate us”. Also discovered in the data is the diction of common knowledge as well as the diction of abstraction as found in: “I am always available for his sexual satisfaction, but he does not respond”.


Marital Freedom, Saturday Punch Newspaper, Diction, Empowerment, Divorce Registers

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